When Mayor Joseph Polisena announced on Dec. 8 that he had found a plaque vandalized inside Fire Station #1, he placed the blame squarely on members of the fire union.
Among other reasons for his belief, the mayor said the area where the plaque is hung is off-limits to the public.
"I just happened to stumble upon it, quite frankly," Polisena explained. "[Firefighters] tried to say 'They use that station for voting,' but the voters stay where the fire trucks are, they don't go inside the building — and it's a secure building; it's not that someone can get in there off the street."
Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini supported Polisena's contention during the Dec. 8 press conference — but fire union President Keith Calci called the mayor's statement "totally, unequivocally false."
Calci explained that the garage doors of Station #1 have been left open on numerous occasions, which could have allowed vandals access to the 2004 plaque.
"I can't tell you how many times I'd pull out of there and it doesn't close — that door could potentially stay open an hour, two hours while we're out on a call," Calci said.
A visit to the station on Dec. 9 [shown in the accompanying video] found the exterior entrance door unlocked, leading to a small foyer and a second interior door, which was locked. When a firefighter noticed a reporter in the foyer, he opened the door, allowed the reporter inside, and let the reporter view the area, unsupervised, for several minutes.
To the left of the interior door is a short hallway where the 2004 plaque, which has plastic letters mounted on an etched leather surface, is hung on a wall near the station's public restroom. At the end of the hall is an unlocked red door that leads to the garage bays.
Police are continuing their investigation into the incident; Deputy Chief David DeCesare confirmed during an interview today that there had been no report about the vandalism filed with the police department before Dec. 7.